Seven Things About (Rewatching) Supernatural: 9x12-9x23
Yeah, the hats in Dixon, MO have definitely improved since I was there last.
- Okay, so there’s depression and stress – Kevin’s death, falling out with Sam, etc. – which might to contribute to Dean drinking more, and disordered sleep, and so on, but there’s still something there, simmering under the surface with marked!Dean at least as early as 9x12.
Garth’s description of him as someone who could “start a fight in an empty house” is even truer than usual. He’s quick to suggest killing Maritza in 9x13, and kills rather than restraining Roger in 9x15.
Things get more pronounced after 9x16 – touching the First Blade is a trigger, but killing Cuthbert Sinclair with it I think seals the deal – and from there we see Dean’s behavior shift acutely toward violence, fugues, and general instability/inflexibility.
- So while the Mark of Cain arc is usually read as an addiction arc – presumably we’re supposed to be primed for it by Crowley’s own addiction arc, and Crowley even describes them both as junkies in 9x17, which suggests it’s being written and directed as one – that’s an odd, ill fit for it.
Yes, some of Dean’s behaviors might mimic an addict’s cravings, but it makes little sense to stage a Very Special Season of Supernatural for Dean, who has been shown over the course of the show as a (mostly) functional substance user/abuser. Moreover, the compulsion Dean experiences isn’t like Sam or Crowley’s blood addictions. There’s nothing inherent in Dean (beyond his having been raised a hunter) to make him predisposed to an addiction to bloodshed. Addiction as an analogy just doesn’t make sense.
What does? Symbiosis and Parasitism.
The Mark is not innate. It’s something passed on from one host to another. When the host feeds it adequately – via bloodshed, preferably with the First Blade – it’s satisfied. The host feels good, and the Mark makes changes to the host to make it more effective (reduced appetite, reduced sleep). When the Mark goes unfed, it motivates the host to fix that by causing cravings, distress, and possibly even death.
(And, as we’ll see in S10, removing the Mark removes all of those signs of stress in the host. So yeah. Magical parasite.)
- I feel guilty sometimes for not liking Metatron because he’s an underdog.
He’s only got status because he was chosen to be The Scribe. Otherwise he’s regarded as un-charismatic, even a pretender to status. He left Heaven and went into hiding because of real risks – I wouldn’t want the Archangels to pick me apart of info either, frankly – but where he goes with that origin story?
Look, I don’t want to align myself with angels like Tyrus – who is also a dick for basically giving Metatron the full Mean Girls – and I’ve been the kid who got teased, looked down on, and bullied whenever I tried to be happy about who I was. I’ve been the lonely kid who didn’t fit in. Hell, sometimes I’m the lonely adult who feels like he doesn’t fit in.
But Metatron? He’s a shitty, manipulative, smug little douche who wants to control people. His origins feel familiar, but instead of rising above he chose to become the ruling angel of the sphere of fedora-toting dickbags.
Sympathy can only go so far.
- Sam, sweetheart, you know that if I loved you any more than I do I would literally be your brother. I know your intentions are good in 9x20 when you tell Ed that “secrets ruin relationships.” I get how it’s relevant to your current difficulties with your brother. None of this is in dispute even a little bit.
Just, uh, can we maybe talk about, say, Seasons 1-6? Because I’m thinking about those, and then hearing this come out of your mouth, and it’s…you know…
I’m just saying maybe if Ed knew you the way we know you he might, uh, look at you like maybe that last head injury hasn’t quite resolved itself. Yeah.
- So. Bloodlines.
I like Ennis. He’s a good egg, he’s observant, it’s nice to have a man of color in a leading role. And he is literally the only good thing about the premise.
Yeah, there are some fun moments, and I like that they used a fan!pala to film, and the David/Violet to Dean/Castiel parallel is fun to entertain, but otherwise? So bad. So. Bad.
Like, what’s with the fridging Tamara right out of the gate? Or all of that bullshit werewolf misogyny? And why are there so many white dudes in charge in a city as diverse as Chicago? And why are the women either dead, ineffectual, or evil?
Andrew Dabb is a better writer than this. Robert Singer is a better director than this.
Did they just not show up? Did they deliberately fuck this one up? Did the network say “hey, give us something that looks like The Originals?” Because that’s literally what this is: Supernatural aping The Originals, except it’s in deadly earnest.
So weird. So terrible.
- You know what I love? Castiel and Gadreel in the second half of the season. Both of them want to be good angels, both of them believe in the original mission, both of them have checkered pasts, both of them are genuinely trying to help.
They’re both the most reasonable angels anyone could ask for, and it’s not surprising that Gadreel comes around and comes to TFW’s aid in the end. His ending guts me – Gadreel, like so many before him, deserved better – but his is a redemption arc that is so well-deserved and so tragically short.
As for Castiel, his grief at the end of the season leads him to the simple desire just to be an angel. Yes, there’s a strong element of killing the pain of a more human existence there – he thinks Dean is dead despite his efforts, he’s failed over and over and over, he just wants things to be better – but that’s also all he’s ever wanted: to be an angel, to do his job, to care for humanity, etc. After the last five years, it’s not a surprise he’d ask for that peace.
- Weirdly, a marathon watch makes Abaddon’s fall feel less abrupt than it did watching week-to-week. Pacing episodic television is such an odd thing.
I do still have reservations about how graphic the kill is, though I think it’s part of a larger demonstration of how far Dean has gone because of the Mark/Blade – his assault of Falstaff later is another example – but contrasting it with Cain’s end in S10? Yeah.
Bonus Thing: So get this: the night 9x23 aired sticks with me in a “social anxiety hell” kind of way.
There’d been meta spec about the finale, and Jensen’s whole thing at upfronts about how the end of the episode would be an “eye-opener,” but I’m the only one in the house who actually consumes any of that regularly.
So we’re watching, and boom:
And I’m like, holy shit this is amazing, which I expressed by standing up and making a noise I’m not sure I could duplicate if asked because I can’t remember if it was a whoop or words, or something only audible by multi-dimensional wavelengths of celestial intent.
Which would have been significantly less awkward if the person sitting next to me hadn’t then stood up and walked out without saying goodbye to anyone.
To this day she and I don’t really talk much. Whoops.